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Advantages and Disadvantages of a BullPup firearm

Advantages and disadvantages of a BullPup Rifle or Shotgun Are you in the market for a new rifle or shotgun? Maybe you’re trying to decide if a bullpup design would be advantageous in your circumstances. There are some caveats to this design, so make sure you are aware of the advantages and disadvantages of a BullPup Rifle or Shotgun.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a BullPup Rifle or Shotgun

What is a Bullpup stock?

Bullpup” describes a modern firearm configuration, in which the action is located behind the trigger group, and alongside the shooter’s face. In this layout, there is no wasted space for the buttstock, as there is in a conventional or traditional firearm design.

Advantages of the Bullpup Configuration

Length and Weight

The bullpup configuration permits a shorter total firearm length, while maintain the same barrel length, typically reducing the weapon’s length overall around 25%.

Not your granddad's shotgun!

Not your granddad’s shotgun!


This compact design offers improved maneuverability in confined spaces, and reduces weight. A bullpup is typically held closer to the body, therefore this design may provide the advantage of causing less fatigue to the user when the arm is outstretched for long periods of time. This coupled with the reduced weight, may also provide a small reaction time advantage in raising the firearm to firing position from a downward pointed direction.

So far that sounds awesome.

Disadvantages or Shortcomings of the Bullpup Configuration

Ejection ports

One shortcoming of bullpups is that, by design, their ejection ports are close to the face. This makes it difficult for left-handed shooters to use, because firearms in general have their ejection port on the right-hand side.

If the ejection ports is on the right side, that means that spent cartridge casings are ejected towards the right, and since the ejection port is now closer to the face, lefty’s will be getting lots of hot brass in their faces. Unless you left handed shooters want to shoot right-handed, you’ll have to shop around for BullPups that have left side, or bottom ejection ports.

They do exist!

  • FAMAS assault rifle, the Steyr AUG and the Israeli Tavor TAR-21 have overcome this limitation, by allowing the bolt and ejection port cover to be swappable, turning the weapon into a left-handed version.
  • The FN P90 ejects downward
  • The FN F2000 and Kel-Tec RFB eject forward of the rifle.
  • The Heckler & Koch G11 use caseless ammunition; in the event that a round fails to fire it can be manually ejected downward.

Proximity to face/head

If a bullpup firearm has a catastrophic failure, instead of the explosion happening six or eight inches in front of your eyes, it’s occurs right at your eyesocket, or touching your cheekbone or ear. Of course, if the bolt explodes out the back of the firearm, it doesn’t end up in your eye socket. We’ll call this a Pseudo-advantage.


The bullpup’s extra weight towards the rear of the firearm, may adversely affect balance, with respect to muzzle rise and automatic firing accuracy.

Lack of Length

The bullpup, being more compact and having an overall shorter length, allows for greater close-in weapons usage; but this would nullify the effectiveness of a bayonet’s added length and reach.

Ok, maybe some of these disadvantages make the bullpup sound a tad bit less awesome!

Quick Breakdown of Advantages and Disadvantages of a BullPup firearm:

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Up to 25% shorter weapon, while maintaining for the same barrel length
  • Reduced Weight (less fatigue)
  • May provide a small reaction time advantage in raising the firearm to firing position from a downward pointed direction
  • Improved maneuverability in confined spaces
  • bolt being ejected from rear of firearm, may not kill you
  • Most firearms have their ejection port on the right-hand side.
  • Firearm malfunctions happen right beside your face
  • weight towards the rear of the firearm, may affect balance
  • shorter length makes bayonet reach shorter

As you may have started to notice, the positives and negatives seem to almost cancel each other out.

Does the Bullpup have an advantage?

I can see an advantage of having a bullpup stock, when used in a home defense situation. The compact design, which allows for  improved maneuverability in confined spaces, would make a shotgun more effective in the hallways and rooms of an average home.

What is my take on the bullpup design? I’ll convert one of my shotguns to a bullpup configuration, strictly for home defense, and leave my other firearms as is..



  1. I really like the Bullpup configuration. One advantage I would add to the list would be: you maintain all the ballistic benefits of a longer barrel in a shorter package.

    As a prepper we all know that the shotgun is a great weapon and can be used to hunt with or defend yourself.

    The Bullpup shotgun is a great example of this. Not only can it clear corners and be a great tactical gun for self defense; but it works really well for hunting Turkey, Wild Pigs, and even Deer with a slug! I can easily sit on the ground or in a stand with a more compact weapon, but I still have an 18″ barrel if I need to reach out! Perfect!

  2. I did try the Tar-21 shooting off hand and I found a number of things that I do not like. The muzzle is closer to my ears. The action rides on my cheek (feel). The front is too light so it is harder aiming for the second shot. When I run out of ammo I would be left with a shorter club. I shoot much more accurate with my M4 style carbine.

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